Know About Novelist?

There are many ways we at Everett Public Library try to to help you find your next great read. Normally, we offer book clubs, Everett Reads!, book displays all over the library, and author talks, plus you can ask us for recommendations in person. Right now the options are more limited since we are closed, but you can still check out our book reviews and Notable New Fiction book lists on our blog, A Reading Life. We have staff picks collections that show up in our catalog. You can email us at libref@everettwa.gov, call us Monday-Friday from 10-5 (425-257-8000), or ask us for recommendations on Facebook. If none of those appeal to you read on.

Novelist is one of many research databases that the library subscribes to for our patrons to use, but it happens to be one that a lot of librarians use on occasion as well. It’s a fast way for busy librarians to find a list of books similar to a one a patron just finished. It has a variety of ways to find your next read by genre, appeal, themes, and award winners. I recently used it myself to discover how I might describe a certain type of book that I love reading.

Since we’ve been been staying home basically all the time due to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy emergency order, I’ve been listening to more audiobooks on weekends. I finished one I really enjoyed called After Me Comes the Flood, by Sarah Perry, and realized how much I have liked the other books I’ve read by her, The Essex Serpent and Melmoth (for a fascinating look at what was happening medically in her life when she wrote that one, check out this Guardian article “Out of my mind: Sarah Perry on writing under the influence of drugs“).

Since there wasn’t another book by her I could listen to, I decided to see how NoveList categorized or described After Me Comes the Flood.
Genre: First person narratives; Psychological suspense
Storyline: Character-driven
Pace: Leisurely paced
Tone: Atmospheric; Creepy

Okay, so I like creepy, psychological books that take place in eerie, atmospheric settings. I always knew I was weird. So how to find more? When searching by title, scroll past the reviews to find a Search for More option where you can choose from those descriptors and more to find similar books. For me it was the creepiness, atmosphere, and psychological suspense that were most appealing, so I can check those boxes to find similar titles, 66 of them in this case.


Searching by author gives the option for author read-alikes and title read-alikes lists. This is one of the most useful functions of NoveList for librarians, because you will get a printable list to be able to hand to patrons for future reading ideas.

You will often find NoveList recommendations right in our catalog without having to navigate to NoveList. Look up the title of the book you loved, click on the link to fully open the information about the title, scroll down a bit, and often you will find Read-alikes right there.

NoveList is not just for novels – there are nonfiction categories to search through – and it isn’t just for adult books. You can find books for ages 0-8, 9-12, and teens. There are many genres to choose from for each age range; for instance Ages 9-12 brings up a real variety such as Adventure Stories, Horror, If you Like…, and Mysteries.

We also subscribe to NoveList K-12, which is similar but focused on books for kids and teens. By doing an advanced search you can find books in the right reading level (Accelerated Reader and Lexile), publish date, and even limit by gender and cultural identity of the author. You can also look for titles that received starred reviews.

Another nice thing about NoveList is that it connects with our catalog; by clicking on Check Availability and then Go to Catalog, you can place a hold on the book. What NoveList doesn’t do so well is find our ebooks – it seems to only be able to connect with our print copies of titles. Still, you may find it useful to find a list of titles to read now or in the future.

May you find something good to read in whatever way suits you best. We are still here, ready to help.

Happy reading!

Same, Same, but Different

same-same-but-different--1I traveled to Thailand a few years back to visit my daughter who was taking a “Gap year” between high school and college. We met in Chiang Mai and did some touristy things like taking a cooking class and shopping for souvenirs. Lots of folks try to make their living by selling these souvenirs and a common call out is “Same same, but different!”  It’s a phrase used a lot in Thailand, and it can mean just about anything but originally meant “I have the same wares, but they’re better!”

You can use this phrase for so many things, but I like it in the context of books. Are you waiting in a long queue for the latest best seller? Well, your library has similar books which may keep you happy while you wait for the latest hot title.

Librarians are specially trained to help you with this very problem. It’s called ‘Reader’s Advisory’ in the trade and I’ll let you in on a few of our trade secrets. You’re probably familiar with Goodreads which is a social media reading site that can give you lists and lists of books on any subject imaginable. I like to use our library catalog which gives awesome suggestions for ‘similar titles’. There’s also a link to the database Novelist on our catalog. Your librarian can help you use these tools or simply do it for you.

Here are some ‘same, same, but different’ books for the currently most popular titles at Everett Public Library.

index (1)Are you longing to read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr? Why not try The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah? This new novel is also set in Nazi occupied World War Two France and includes a love story. Two sisters are forced to test the strength of their courage and their love for each other as they each face the coming war in very different ways. Quiet Vianne has a husband who is fighting on the front lines and is terrified for their young daughter, yet she still manages to make her mark in her small town by standing up for what’s right in her own way. Headstrong Isabelle joins the resistance and fights the Nazis in each and every way she can. index (1)Neither of them will be the same by the time the war has ended. This was my first Kristin Hannah novel but it most definitely will not be my last. I was instantly drawn to the gorgeous cover and the intriguing summary on the dust jacket and decided to take a chance. I am very glad I did. Never have I read a book that told a story of occupied France in quite this way and from women’s perspectives too!

Nature of the BeastI just placed a hold for The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny and I’m 25th in line! It must be good, but while I wait for it, I think that I’ll read the new Flavia de Luce mystery, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley. The Armand Gamache and Flavia De Luce mysteries are intelligent, character centered, cozies set in small towns. Although the time periods differ, the conversational tone and feel are similar. This Flavia de Luce mystery is even set in Toronto. They also share casts of eccentric secondary characters as well as unique investigators. Falva de Luce has been sent off to boarding school in Toronto; the same index (3)school her mother had attended. On her first night there, down from the chimney in her room a charred and mummified body drops. It has clearly been there for some time and the head is separated from the body. Flavia is determined to find out the victim’s identity and who killed her, but must also find out why girls are disappearing from the school without a trace.

index (1)I’m listening to Circling the Sun by Paula McLain and it is fabulous! It is the backstory of Beryl Markham, the first woman to make a transatlantic crossing from east to west solo. She was raised by her father in Africa and became that continent’s first woman horse trainer. There’s quite a line to get this beautiful novel, so place your hold and then check out Markham’s own book, West With the Night. When Hemingway read Markham’s book, he wrote to his editor, Maxwell Perkins: “She has written so well, and marvelously index (2)well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer . . . [She] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers. It is really a bloody wonderful book.” First published in 1942, it’s just as remarkable today. Look for the illustrated edition. It’s loaded with wonderful photos of the author during her days in Africa. What more could you ask for than beautiful writing and a compelling story about the daring exploits of a spunky lady? Both of these books are well worth your time!

index (1)Now here’s a no-brainer: If you’re waiting in line for the wonderful new novel Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, read (or re-read) To Kill a Mockingbird in the meantime. In fact, it makes sense to (re)read Mockingbird first as Watchman is set twenty years after the trial of Tom Robinson. The basic plot of this new sequel/prequel/first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird is that our beloved narrator, Scout (now Jean Louise), is now in her twenties and returns from New York to visit her father, Atticus, in Maycomb. However, Atticus has changed in these years and now hold views and opinions that greatly upset index (4)Jean Louise. Reading the first page of this novel you are immediately dropped into the familiar prose and voice of Lee’s masterwork. Maycomb is alive again in your hands. The novel simmers along at a steady pace as Jean Louise reminisces about her childhood in the town and about her life now. Then about half-way through the plot turns as we discover what Atticus has been up to. Unless you have been living under a rock, then you already know what I’m talking about but if you don’t know then I’ll tell you: He’s a big ole racist.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea: your librarian can help you find the perfect book, or even movie, to fill your needs while you’re waiting for that hot popular title. Come on in to the library to get your ‘same, same, but different’ book!

Stargazer

Origins CoverSomewhere along the line I forgot about outer space. Like many kids who grew up in an urban area, experiencing the beauty of the night’s sky meant driving into the city, passing under an oddly-orange firmament where ‘stars’ usually turned out to be planes, to go to the planetarium. There, among the laser effects and synth-heavy space funk, I became enthralled with the idea of traveling to distant planets (our visits probably also laid the groundwork for my high school rave years). Being raised watching Doctor Who sealed the deal. This lasted until I was about 10, when I realized that my fear of heights, going fast, and flying would pretty much ruin any aspirations I had of reaching for the stars. Once the dream became impossible, it seemed acceptable to forget I ever had it.

Thankfully for the rest of the world space exploration carried on, and amazing things were accomplished. We have robots sending us beautiful images (and data) from Mars, while private corporations are currently discussing sending people (and reality shows) to that same red planet. We have interstellar probes, launched before I was even born, that are about to pass out of the solar system.  At this moment, astronauts from three different countries are living and working in the massive International Space Station that is hurtling around the planet miles above our heads.

Moon CoverWhen you take the time to remember outer space, you realize how far we’ve come in understanding it, and how far we’re about to go in continuing that research. There are scores of great books written about space and space exploration, so I felt it would be appropriate to make a reading list for anyone who wanted to be an armchair astronaut with me.

One of the best parts about being in the Pacific Northwest is that you’re never too far from wilderness, and the amazing star-gazing it affords you.The Monthly Sky Guide by Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion is an easy to use, very portable book that you can take along on camping trips to help you learn about all the beautiful activity going on above you.

As mentioned in a couple of our Facebook posts, Neil deGrasse Tyson is someone you should know if you don’t already. Tyson is as influential and likable a celebrity for astrophysics as Bill Nye is for science education, or Michael Pollan is for botany. For two very enjoyable and accessible reads about the history of the universe, and where mankind’s place is in it, I’d recommend Origins and Space Chronicles.

Pale Blue Dot coverTo look into the past, present, and future of humans in space, Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan is a classic. This book is full of beautiful illustrations and thought-provoking chapters that read like sci-fi.

If you’re like me, and you want a little bit of anthropology mixed in with your space (I know, weird), look no further than Moon: a Brief History by Bernard Brunner. This book takes a look at the mythology and symbolism that has developed around the Moon, and combines it with what we know scientifically about our closest neighbor in space.

Pluto CoverFinally, for mourning fans of debased Pluto, there’s How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown. Written by the astronomer who made the discovery that inadvertently dethroned Pluto as a planet, this book gives the reader a humorous and enlightening explanation of one of the stranger recent events in astronomy.

I hope this list has inspired you, as Jack Horkheimer always urged me as a kid, to “keep looking up!”